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Rod Stewart Biography
In his early years, Rod Stewart was widely thought of as one of rock's foremost interpretive singers. Even his songwriting chops had merit. Somewhere, though, Stewart decided to focus on churning out adult contemporary hits. Critics balked, preferring his bluesy raw style over the mainstream pop gems.
Stewart got his start in the early '60s fronting Jimmy Powell & the Five Dimensions in Birmingham, England before signing on with London-based Long John Baldry's Hoochie Coochie Men. The group evolved into Steampacket and earned a spot on a summer UK tour in 1965 supporting the Rolling Stones and the Walker Brothers.
A year later, Steampacket disbanded and Stewart first hopped the Shotgun Express then, in late '66, joined the Jeff Beck Group and found his footing.
The combination of Beck's master guitar licks and Stewart's raw vocals blended to be a blues-rock style that would eventually launch heavy metal. Their debut album, Truth, was issued in 1968 and found an audience on both sides of the pond that was bolstered by two years of touring.
In the summer of '69, the group's second offering, Beck-Ola, provided another solid success, but the band broke up anyway. Stewart and Ron Wood found themselves in the Faces with First Step as their debut. Rod also landed a solo deal and simultaneously put out his first solo effort, An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down (known as The Rod Stewart Album in the U.S.).
The Faces did well in the UK, while Stewart's popularity boomed in the U.S. Successful sophomore sets came from both projects, Stewart's solo effort being Gasoline Alley. He supported it with a solo tour of America.
On his third outing, Every Picture Tells a Story, Rod topped charts in both the U.S. and Britain. Two cuts stood out -- "Reason to Believe" and "Maggie May" – with the latter hitting number one in both countries. His solo success helped the Faces carry on, as well, but caused some tension.
Rod's fourth release, Never a Dull Moment, made it to number two in the U.S. and number one in the UK. That was followed by yet another Faces album, Ooh La La, and tour in 1973. It would be the band's last, though it topped the UK charts and hit number 21 in the U.S.
Stewart wasn't yet finished and issued Smiler two years later. Atlantic Crossing followed in 1975, with A Night on the Town in 1976. That album was his first platinum set thanks to smash hits like "Tonight's the Night."
Foot Loose & Fancy Free did even better, selling over three million copies. For 1978's Blondes Have More Fun, Rod mixed in a little disco and got himself a number one single -- "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" -- and album.
Synth pop and new wave creeped into 1981's platinum Tonight I'm Yours Though. The released marked a turn for the worse for Stewart, one that lasted for another four albums.
Finally, around 1988, things started looking up with Out of Order. A cover of the Tom Waits' song "Downtown Train," landed nicely as did 1991's Vagabond Heart.
Ron Wood joined Rod on his 1993 MTV Unplugged performance. One of the results was the Top 10 version of "Have I Told You Lately." Stewart stuck to an acoustic-based sound for A Spanner in the Works and several subsequent albums.
No one liked 2001's Human, Rod's dalliance with a more urban contemporary style. Going back to basics, Stewart began his Great American Songbook series with It Had to Be You. Having found another winning formula, Stewart kept to it for 2002's As Time Goes By, 2004's Stardust, and 2005's Thanks for the Memory. The four volumes came together in The Great American Songbook Box Set.
Staying on the cover wagon, Rod rocked out and put out For Still the Same: Great Rock Classics of Our Time in 2006. Motown took center stage in 2009 for Soulbook before a return to the Great American Songbook series came in 2010's Fly Me to the Moon.
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